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Dumb Mistake
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

Publisher's Note:
Rick's fishing season is over until the ice melts, but we have a nice stash of articles he has written in the past as ideas or events occured to him. We hope this will explain apparent 'out of season' articles.

I went out for one of my normal Saturday morning recreation periods. I usually pack most of my fishing gear in the truck the night before so I can get up and take off. This time I got interrupted in the middle of the process. When I got home I thought I finished the process of putting everything in that I would need.

I got to the pond and was loading everything into the canoe when I realized that the anchor was not with me. I thought for a minute, or less, and then decided that I did not want to make the 18 mile round trip to get the anchor and come back. Besides that the pond was flat as there was no wind. I also could hear and see numerous fish taking something off the surface with slurping sounds.

Before I launched the canoe I changed one of the flies to a floating nymph pattern (in my favorite bluegill fly articles). I kept the other fly as a subsurface fly to cover the whole water column. I then launched out and cast the fly. It sat on the water for a moment and then a gill came out of the water and hit it going down. This fish was hooked before I could do anything.

It was great fun on a 3 wt as this fish turned sideways and worked to stay away from the canoe.

After I landed this fish I cast out again. After the fly had sat for a time period I twitched it a little. After the third twitch I could see a bulge of water coming at the fly. I waited until the fly disappeared and then tightened the line. I had a foot long bass decide to become an aerialist. This fish spent more time out of the water than in it. But he was fun to catch.

With the noise this fish had made I decided to move a little ways. I cast near the weed line by the shore and had an immediate hit. This fish wanted to go back into the weeds and we had a time of it before I got this fish into the open water away from the weeds. This fish fought very hard to stay away from the canoe. He stayed sideways and worked to try to get to the bottom.

I finally got him in. I decided to cast near the same place, just to see what would happen. This time I had a 6" bass hit the fly. This fish came in fairly easily. The next three casts to near the same place all produced small bass.

It was time to move. I moved about 20 feet before casting again. I cast to the edge of the weeds again, but where there was a little point. I had a big gill immediately suck in the fly and then get tied up in some weeds. It took some messing around but I finally got the fish out of the weeds and away from the edge. We then got into a tug-of-war, which I eventually won. I checked after I landed this fish and she went 11.75 inches. I put her back in the pond to keep those genetics around.

I cast by the point again and had another gill take the fly. This fish was a little smaller but still put up a great fight. This one went 11.5". I moved from that spot, to keep from stressing the big gills that seemed to be there.

At this point the wind started to pick up a little. This was OK as it would move me along the pond and I could cast to likely looking spots. I came to some deeper water and decided to try a Peacock Sword Tail Nymph (also in the favorites article). I cast this out and was letting the fly drop when I saw the line twitch. I set the hook and had the fish most of the way in when the hook came out. I could see that the fish was barely lip hooked. Time to cast again and try again.

This time I had a better hook set and got this fish in. This was a gill of about 10" of length but was almost round in shape. He looked a little like a football. I kept casting with the fly and got about 1 of 4 fish to the canoe. Still it was at least a strike a cast and that was fun.

The wind was picking up more all of the time. When I came to a flat shelf along the pond I went back to the floating fly. After I cast it out I saw the fish come up to take it. This was not one of my better casts. Only about 12 feet, but the fish hit the fly. My next cast was a little longer and that took another fish.

It then hit me that I may have been spooking several fish in the shallow water by making a long cast, hooking a fish, and then dragging that fish through the water where other fish were at. I kept doing the short casting and catching fish on almost every cast.

I did this down the one side of the pond and then paddled back to the dam end where the wind was coming from. I caught more fish where the water was shallow with the floating bug and used the peacock sword tail nymph in the deeper water. I kept on catching fish, and losing some to short strikes.

Finally the wind got too strong and I left the pond. I don't like to be out in the canoe in 30 to 35 mph winds. Besides that I have a hard time casting with wind like that.

I ended up with 52 gills and 3 crappie to bring home. I know that with the fish that I released I had a hundred fish day. I left the bass and the huge gills, but that will insure good fishing in the years ahead.

I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick Zieger

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